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Museum’s Ancient Egyptian treasures inspire new community art exhibition

(21 January 2019)

Examining Oriental Museum artefacts

A new exhibition featuring art inspired by our Ancient Egyptian treasures and created by members of a mental health charity opens soon.

What can I see?

Artworks produced by members of The Art Studio, a Sunderland-based art and mental health charity which provides support to improve the lives of its members through art, during a series of workshops at the University’s Oriental Museum during autumn 2018.

Participants learned about the Museum’s extensive Ancient Egyptian collection through touring the displays and handling the artefacts. They then produced drawings, paintings, ceramics, prints, sculptures and textiles inspired by what they had seen and done, and these artworks form the basis of the Behind the Mask exhibition.

The Art Studio members have also co-curated the exhibition, working with University staff to design the gallery space, arrange the artwork, create interpretation materials and publicise the exhibition.

How did it go?

One Art Studio member reflected: “Coming to the Oriental Museum was really enjoyable. I feel like my knowledge about Ancient Egypt, and my skills as an artist, have increased a lot. It was brilliant, and everyone got to hold Ancient Egyptian artefacts.”

Charlotte Spink, the Museum’s Access and Community Engagement Officer, said: “We’ve loved the project. We want people to engage with our collections and use them as inspiration for their own creative work. This project really shows the power of museums to help build knowledge, skills and confidence in people that otherwise may not be able to access museums. We hope visitors to the exhibition will be inspired in the same way.”

How do I see it?

Behind the Mask will be at the Oriental Museum from Friday 1 February to Sunday 2 June. For more information, visit the Behind the Mask website.

Tell me more…

The University’s Oriental Museum is the only museum in the north of the UK dedicated to the art and archaeology of the Orient. The collections cover the cultures of China, Japan, Korea, India, the Near and Middle East and Africa. Find out more here.

The Oriental Museum’s Ancient Egyptian collection contains more than 7,000 objects – some from as far back as 5,000BC. There’s everything from monumental sculpture to woven sandals. Find out more here.

The Art Studio is a charity that aims to help people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness to improve their wellbeing through art. Find out more here.